What to do before expanding your ReadyNAS volume

One of the great things about the ReadyNAS line is automatic expansion using X-RAID. Both X-RAID (found on Sparc ReadyNAS such as the Duo and NV+) and the newer X-RAID2 (found on x86 ReadyNAS e.g. NVX, Ultra, Ultra Plus, Pro, 1500, 2100, 3200, 3100 and 4200) are major selling points of the ReadyNAS line. Now some Flex-RAID volumes can be expanded on x86 ReadyNAS as of RAIDiator 4.2.16, but this is not automatic. The ability to easily expand your existing volume rather than needing to backup your data, do a factory reset, then restore from backup to get more capacity is a great feature.

You may wonder, surely it can’t be as simple as following the advice in the links I gave above to expand a ReadyNAS volume? Well, it is.

However there are some additional steps one should take if possible before embarking on the process of expanding one’s volume.

Do you need to expand your volume?

Have you accumulated a whole lot of data you no longer need to keep. Deleting old files you no longer need is a great way to free up space and delay the need to expand your volume. Data hoarders like me may find this harder than others, but it is worth noting.

Are there any reasons why it would be better to backup the data and do a factory reset?

Yes.

  1. A factory reset after updating to the latest firmware gives you a clean setup on the latest firmware.
  2. A factory  reset can be much faster than expanding your volume particularly when using high capacity disks.
  3. You cannot reduce the number of disks and expand your volume i.e. if you have 4x1TB disks installed you can expand to have a volume of 4x2TB disks, but you cannot expand to have a volume of 3x2TB disks.
  4. You cannot add smaller capacity disks and expand your volume e.g. if you have a 6-bay x86 ReadyNAS with 4x2TB disks installed you cannot expand your volume by adding 1TB disks. Smaller capacity disks must be added first.
  5. Unfortunately some benefits cannot be obtained without a factory reset.
  6. Unfortunately some expansion limitations cannot be overcome without a factory reset. You can seek advice as to whether you are affected by any expansion limitations by posting on the ReadyNAS forums or contacting NetGear technical support

If you want to backup all data and do a factory reset proceed as follows:

  1. Backup all data
  2. Verify backup is good
  3. Upgrade to latest RAIDiator for your NAS if you haven’t already. You can check the latest version of RAIDiator under System > Update > Remote in Frontview. If a newer version than what you’re running is offered, update. Be sure to reboot the NAS when prompted to complete the update.
  4. Optional – If you don’t want to reconfigure the NAS manually and would rather restore the NAS configuration after the factory reset, do a System > Config Backup (keep the zip file that is downloaded as this is what you will need to restore later).
  5. Power down the NAS, remove old disks (label order) you no longer wish to use in the NAS, if any.
  6. Put the new disks in the NAS and do a factory default using the ReadyNAS boot menu
  7. Optional – if you don’t want to reconfigure the NAS manually, restore the Config Backup.
  8. Restore data from backup

If you still wish to expand your volume, read on.

Do you have a current and complete backup?

Whilst the process of adding/replacing disks one at a time does work fine almost all the time you should note that when you add disks to your volume or replace disks used by your volume the redundancy is broken until the resync completes. This means that if a disk fails during this process other than the disk you just added you could experience catastrophic data loss (if you are using RAID-6 or X-RAID2 dual-redundancy – available on 6-bay or greater ReadyNAS – you have protection against two disk failures, so you have some more protection). You should note that a resync puts all your drives under heavy stress so if a disk is failing the resync could finish it off.

Once you’ve made your backup, be sure to verify that it is good.

Are you running the latest version of RAIDiator for your NAS?

After ensuring you have an up-to-date backup, you should upgrade to latest RAIDiator for your NAS if you haven’t already. Sparc ReadyNAS use RAIDiator 4.1.x firmware and x86 ReadyNAS use RAIDiator x86 4.2.x firmware.

You can check the latest version of RAIDiator under System > Update > Remote in Frontview. If a newer version than what you’re running is offered, update. Be sure to reboot the NAS when prompted to complete the update.

Some expansion problems are addressed by firmware updates and when disks are added to the ReadyNAS Hardware Compatibility List they may have only been tested on the latest firmware and require fixes included in that firmware for compatibility.

What drives should I choose?

Please only choose drives from the ReadyNAS Hardware Compatibility List. NetGear will deny support if you have issues using any drives not listed on the compatibility list. The drive you purchase must be one of the models listed there.

You can seek advice on the ReadyNAS forums as to which of these would be best for you. If using in production in a business environment I would strongly recommend enterprise drives (these tend to have 5 year warranties, rotational vibration safeguard and cost at least twice as much as consumer drives)

It is strongly recommended only to use brand new disks. If you choose to use used disks please hook them up to a PC and delete the partitions on them before use.

What volume capacity can I expect after expansion?

Using X-RAID2 single-redundancy on a x86 ReadyNAS you can take a look at the animation X-RAID2 Single-Redundancy in Action. Your volume can only expand when redundant space can be added. For example, if you have 4x500GB disks in the NAS and expand your volume to have 2x1TB and 2x2TB disks your ReadyNAS will expand to have a dual-layer array. You will need to add the 1TB disks first. You will end up with a RAID-5 layer of 4x1TB and a RAID-1 layer of 2x1TB on top. After redundancy you will have 3x1TB + 1x1TB = 4TB before overheads after expansion.

Using X-RAID2 dual-redundancy your volume will only expand if redundant space can be added. Take a look at X-RAID2 dual-redundancy expansion paths

Using X-RAID (on Sparc ReadyNAS) you can expect the volume to expand using the capacity of the smallest disk e.g. If you have 4x500GB disks and expand to use 2x1TB and 2x2TB disks your volume will treat this as if you had 4x1TB disks. There will be the redundancy of one disk, so you will have 3TB of space before overheads after expansion.

Using Flex-RAID on x86 ReadyNAS your RAID-5 or RAID-6 (RAID-6 is available on 6-bay or greater ReadyNAS) your volume will use the capacity of the smallest disk. You can add additional volumes to utilise any unused space if you wish.

Flex-RAID volumes cannot be expanded on Sparc ReadyNAS, but you can add additional volumes to utilise any unused space.

Please note that Flex-RAID supports up to 4 volumes (any given disk can be included in two of these)

You should note a key difference in measurement. Disk manufacturers treat 1 KiloByte as 1000 Bytes. The NAS like most computers considers 1 KiloByte to be 1024 Bytes. So a 1TB (1000GB) drive is considered to be a 931 (1000 * 1000^3 / 1024^3) GB drive by the ReadyNAS. This can be considered to be much like people measuring a person’s height in feet or metres (the number you get is different depending on which measurement you use, but the height is still the same).

After you allow for the measurement difference, there are still overheads, but these typically make up a small number of gigabytes. If you wish to calculate an estimate take a look at Why is my volume capacity lower than expected?

Can I migrate to dual-redundancy rather than expand my volume?

Yes, if you have a 6-bay or greater ReadyNAS with 3 or more disks installed, a redundant volume and at least one empty drive bay you can. Take a look at Converting an X-RAID2 system to dual-redundancy

Checking disk health

You can mitigate the risks of a disk failing, by checking the health of your disks before beginning the process of replacing the disks one by one.

Disks currently in the ReadyNAS

If you have a x86 ReadyNAS you should check the health of the disks currently in the ReadyNAS using the “Disk Test” boot option on the ReadyNAS boot menu. Whilst the NAS runs short online SMART tests daily as well as when you boot the NAS, these will not always pick up a problem with a disk. The “Disk Test” boot option runs a long offline SMART test on each disk which takes hours to complete and should identify if one of the disks currently in the NAS has a problem.

If you have a Sparc ReadyNAS, then you don’t have a “Disk Test” boot option. So you can:

  1. Go to Status > Health in Frontview and check the SMART+ stats for each of your disks.
  2. If you are able to, it would be best to power down your NAS, remove your disks (label order), hook the drives up to a SATA port on your PC and check the disks using vendor tools running both short and long tests. Then put the disks back in your ReadyNAS.

If you have any questions about the health of your disks please seek advice on the ReadyNAS forums and/or contact NetGear technical support

Disks not yet in the ReadyNAS

If you are able to, I would hook the new drives up to a SATA port on your PC and check the disks using vendor tools running both short and long tests. If you are unable to run vendor tools do note that the ReadyNAS does run a short SMART test when adding a disk which will hopefully identify if the disk is bad. Running vendor tools is recommended as long tests in particular check the disks very thoroughly.

Before adding the disks

Before you begin to add the new disks, there are a few more steps you should take. You will need to do these steps before expansion can take place. Please note that some of these steps may not apply to your ReadyNAS. If you do not see the option or the setting is already correct, please skip this step.

1. Delete any active snapshot and disable the snapshot schedule

Delete Snapshot

2. Make sure the disk spindown feature is disabled.

Disable Disk Spin-down

3. Make sure “Disable Journaling” Feature in System->Performance tab is unchecked. Note that this option is obsolete on x86 ReadyNAS and thus may not appear (if so, skip this step).

Disable Journaling

Add the disks

If your ReadyNAS supports hot-swapping (all x86 ReadyNAS and later Sparc ReadyNAS such as the Duo, NV and NV+) then you can add the disks while the NAS is on.

Remember you cannot add smaller capacity disks than are in your array currently (e.g. if the highest capacity disk in your array is 1TB, that is the minimum capacity the disks you add can have).

You should also note you must add the smaller capacity disks first e.g. if you have a 6-bay ReadyNAS with 2x500GB disks and want to add 2x1TB and 2x2TB disks to the empty drive bays then you must add the 1TB disks first then the 2TB disks.

Please add one disk at a time. Wait for the resync to complete and the Volume Status under Volumes > Volume Settings in Frontview to return to “redundant” before adding the next disk.

Expansion

Once the volume can expand, expansion should take place automatically (if using X-RAID or X-RAID2, remember on x86 ReadyNAS running 4.2.16 or later some Flex-RAID volumes can be expanded manually). You may be prompted to reboot before expansion can take place. If you have expansion difficulties please take a look at What To Do When Expansion Doesn’t Start. If the advice there doesn’t help contact NetGear technical support for assistance.

 

Category: Uncategorized 2 comments »

2 Responses to “What to do before expanding your ReadyNAS volume”

  1. awk

    Hi,
    I have a readynas+ v2 and cannot find any option to stop the disks spinning down,
    Any clues?

  2. mdgm

    This is not really a relevant post to the v2 at this time.

    However you can use SSH to edit /etc/default/services to add the line “NOFLUSHD=240″ which will set the disks to spin down after 4 hours of inactivity.

    Alternatively you can wait for RAIDiator-arm 5.3.5 which should have an option in the UI to set disk spin-down options.


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